Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche has confirmed a compact SUV version of the new A-class will go into production. The new model is likely to take the GLA name when it goes into production late next year or early in 2014.

“There is more to come [from the A-class line-up],” said Zetsche, speaking at the start of production of the new A-class at Mercedes’ Rastatt plant in Germany last week. “The compact SUV will be 
the third model we will build here in Rastatt.”

The GLA will join the new A-class and B-class in production at Rastatt, and the trio will also be built at the firm’s Kecskemét plant in Hungary. The Eastern European location will also exclusively be home to the baby CLS saloon-coupé version of the A-class, dubbed CLA and previewed by the recent Concept Style Coupé at the Beijing motor show, and a sleek estate version of that car, the CLA Shooting Brake.

The new five-strong compact car line-up built on Mercedes’ new modular MFA platform is key to the ‘Mercedes-Benz 2020’ growth strategy, which outlines the firm’s plans to overtake Audi and BMW as the largest premium car maker in terms of global unit sales.

Mercedes has so far delivered more than 70,000 B-class models since it was launched last November, and has so far received more than 40,000 orders for the new A-class. Demand is such that Mercedes is adding a third shift at Rastatt.

The GLA is Mercedes’ answer to the BMW X1. First scooped by Autocar last year in this artist’s rendering, the new model will eschew the chunky looks of Mercedes’ larger SUVs in favour of a more contemporary look inspired by the new A-class.

Engines will be shared with the rest of the models based on the MFA architecture. Both front and four-wheel drive versions will be offered.